Eduardo Guerra: Art can cure and heal

Eduardo Guerra was born in the western province of Pinar del Río, but since as child he suffered from asthma, the family decided to move to the town of San Luis, very close to the famous Robaina plantations, where the world’s most famous tobacco is harvested.

When he was barely 12 years old his father – who was a cook – found out that in the nearby House of Culture “tests were being made to get into the Pinar del Río Vocational Art School.” He took his son by the hand and that was precisely the start of the career of that painter and engraver who considers that being an artist requires not just studies and talent but also constant, firm, sustained work. Eduardo Guerra believes in work.

Being in that school, in which I remained for some three years, allowed me in the first place to come into contact with excellent artists and professors like Mario García Portela – who at the time was the director of the academy -, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Humberto Hernández (El negro) and Pablo Fernández, among others. That first jolt was extraordinary.”

Eduardo Guerra Photo by Ismario Rodríguez Pérez
Eduardo Guerra Photo by Ismario Rodríguez Pérez

While chatting with OnCuba he revealed that the greatest influence he recognizes is that of Pedro Pablo Oliva who, since he practices teaching, used to take his students to the countryside and, more than once, Guerra remembers, “used to stand them before a garbage dump and would exclaim: look how pretty that garbage dump is!, and I didn’t understand what he meant. Afterwards I realized that with that action he was favoring among his disciples an aesthetic attitude; with the passing of time I have become a great garbage collector to make my sculptures, although I consider I do not have a formation as a sculptor. I am convinced that based on apparently ugly things, good art can be made and beautiful and deep things can be said. In that sense Pedro Pablo made us have a view of poetry, of dreams, of the fantasy that is so important at an early age because it awakens and favors an aesthetic position that will accompany you throughout your entire life.”

From 1982 to 1986 he studied in the National Art School (ENA) and, subsequently, in 1995 he graduated from the Higher Institute of Art in the specialty of engraving, a manifestation he has said is “his forte,” and with which he feels committed for several reasons: “I had excellent teachers like Belkis Ayón, one of the most important Cuban engravers, who taught me to see engraving, because of its level of dedication, as a priesthood. The engraver has to know all the techniques and have the humbleness to know how to share with his colleagues the life of the workshop. The multiple original also has the advantage that it reaches more publics, that is to say, an engraving can be in your home and at the same time in another space, which is why the social impact and repercussion is greater.”

Autoestima by Eduardo Guerra
Autoestima by Eduardo Guerra

This singular creator – who not only engraves but also prints his own work – has found in collagraphy a vast field for experimentation and a support to give free rein to his overflowing imagination: winged figures, goblins, elephants, clouds, cats, pigs, hearts, enigmatic women, birds, and fish, among other many imageries – all of them based on figuration – take shape and make up an extremely suggesting visualization that is sustained and strengthened based on a very clean line refined drawing.

I belong to a generation marked by the difficult years of the 1990s,” he says, “and the work generated in that period had a reflective attitude about everything we were going through and no one was alien to that moment because it was truly very complex. At present I perhaps have become calmer in terms of some matters and I perceive there is introspection and a vision of the human being, of interpersonal relations, of the link with the environment and that, without noticing it, starts changing the perspective of the arguments dealt with in the work. The question of how human beings relate today is a concern that is reflected in my work. I believe that art can cure and heal.”

Demasiado amor by Eduardo Guerra
Demasiado amor by Eduardo Guerra

That desire to participate and, above all, to have an influence on his environment, led to a dream he had nurtured with another neighbor on the block come true in October 2008: making a park, a simple tribute to renowned Catalonian architect Antoni Gaudi. That’s how the Gaudi Park was born on a corner of Havana’s Kohly district which formerly was a garbage dump and, thanks to the power of transformation of art, the community has had a space for socializing for almost a decade: “when news of the project came out they said they would back us with benches and we said we were going to make them ourselves and that each bench was going to be a different sculpture. As the park started growing, the people were surprised when they saw how based on that cement beautiful images started being born. I involved all my neighbors to make the design, therefore since then they defend their park. From my modest action I consider I cooperated for art to become a weapon of encounter. I sincerely consider it my most necessary work because I know it represents a social benefit and the people enjoy it. We’re already thinking about organizing the tenth birthday of the Gaudi Park, a live art space.”

La ola by Eduardo Guerra
La ola by Eduardo Guerra

Eduardo Guerra (Pinar del Río, August 23, 1967). Painter and engraver, professor of the Faculty of Visual Arts of Cuba’s Arts University (ISA), with more than some 20 personal and some 40 collective exhibits. He has received recognitions like the Award of the 10th Poitiers Visual Arts Salon, France. His works are in collections of Casa de Galicia, Madrid, Spain: Antonio Pérez Foundation, Cuenca, Spain; Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA), California, United States; and Cuevas Museum, Mexico City, among others.

LOCATION

Studio: Calle 44 no. 4107 e/ 41 y 38, Kohly, Playa, Havana, Cuba

Tel.: (53) 7 203 8722 (studio) / (53) 5 290 2593 (cell phone)

Email: eduardoguerra@cubarte.cult.cu

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